The first time I heard the name Oliver McCrum mentioned it was, oddly enough, not by someone associated with K&L or the wine industry in any way. My girlfriend Cecilia, who attended the 30th Anniversary Tent Tasting here in Redwood City last May, asked me about the polite, unpretentious, British man who poured some outstanding Italian wines and had taken the time to share his enthusiasm for them with her. “His name was Oliver McCrum,” she said to me. I shrugged. I am still quite new to the wine biz and was not familiar with him, nor had I ever heard his name around the store.
“I remember your girlfriend,” Oliver said to me last Friday when he came to pour his wines at our store. “She came back three or four times to re-taste.” Cecilia, whose interest in wine usually begins and ends with the drinking of it, was quite impressed with McCrum’s knowledge, presentation and overall demeanor. She seemed genuinely interested in more than just the fact that his wines tasted delicious; specifically where in Italy did they come from and how did he get them. Knowing how Cecilia can get easily bored by wine specs, this was an outstanding accomplishment. I knew I needed to ask my fellow employees more about this man. Mentioning Oliver McCrum’s name at the K&L front counter is enough to make eyes light up. I first asked Jeff Garneau if he knew who this mysterious person was. “Yes, of course. He imports Italian wines,” he replied. He was curious as to why I was asking, and I told him that apparently this guy had been here pouring wine at the big tasting. “Oliver was here?” he shot back seemingly surprised and simultaneously disappointed. “I can’t believe I missed him! There isn’t anybody I would rather taste with.” Others had the same obvious enthusiasm towards McCrum and his wines.